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Elizabeth Ajetunmobi: Is Your Domestic Staff Going Away For Christmas?

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I love Christmas and everything the season brings!

Stunning decorations, dreamy carol songs, beautiful family moments, tasty food, and… best of all, reliving the real reason for the season! This season also heralds us into a new year! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

There’s just one tiny little challenge: with all the merriment, the show of love, and preparations for the new year, the Christmas holiday can be one of the most hectic times for families, especially if your domestic and other support staff decide to take that time off as well. Never mind that the holiday typically only lasts between one to two weeks, it can be really tough without the support we’ve been used to having throughout the year.

I’m sure by now you already know if your staff would be taking some time off. You should have discussed with them and agreed on if and when they would be going on vacation. If you haven’t had this conversation, you might be in for an unpleasant shock because, believe it or not, your staff might have their own plans. So please make out time to discuss it. This way, you can plan ahead and not get thrown off balance if your staff’s plan doesn’t work well with yours.

Now, if your domestic staff would be with you throughout the holiday, congratulations! Be sure to appreciate them and make it worth their while so you don’t have a resentful staff on your hands. However, if your staff would be going on leave during the Christmas break, don’t panic, here are some tips to help you keep the stress levels down and to ensure you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Travel, if you can

This tip can change the game for you! It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip or be done outside the country. There are many affordable alternatives today. If you can afford to take your family away for a week or two, then absolutely do it! Before you jet off to your Christmas vacation, work with your domestic staff a few days to departure to do some thorough house cleaning or what Oyinbos call ‘Spring Cleaning’. Ensure the major laundry is done, kitchen cabinets are cleaned out and organized, your refrigerator is emptied of perishables, shelves are neatly arranged, windows cleaned, toilets and baths scrubbed, the entire house swept, mopped, dusted and fresh bedsheets laid! The goal is to leave your house in the best state you’d want to come home to. This way, you can relax and not be overwhelmed by chores when you return in the New Year.

Buy everything in bulk

By now, the prices of goods might have already gone up in the markets due to the holiday, so I hope you’ve already done this ahead. If you haven’t, you could still consider it. Buy your groceries and toiletries in bulk and work with your staff to get the food items – semi or fully prepared – stored up in your freezer. This way, you can significantly cut down the time you spend in the kitchen through the holiday!

P.S – This tip only works if you have good storage space and great power supply. If you don’t, please look into the other alternatives.

Make friends with a supplier

Do you know you don’t need to go to the market every time you need to buy your groceries or toiletries? A better way to shop is to simply build relationships with traders in the market who can become your suppliers or helpers. Having a ‘customer’ in the market who can either deliver to you during the holiday, or help you source for the items you need while you simply pick up, would save you time and a whole lot of stress. This tip can work as an alternative to buying in bulk.

Consider a part-time staff

Not everyone celebrates Christmas and not everyone travels for the holiday. Believe it or not, there are some people who would rather work over the holidays than take a vacation, for various reasons. If you’d be home for the holidays with your family, you might have some relatives staying over, or you might decide to host a few family and friends to Christmas lunch or dinner. Without your domestic staff, you might get overwhelmed. You should consider getting a temporary staff to avoid getting overworked.

This tip is especially helpful if your children are young and can’t help out much around the house and if your relatives who are coming over would also not be able to give you a hand. A temporary staff can come in before your guests arrive to help you prepare or after, to help you clean up. You can schedule them to come in a few days a week or on-demand as necessary. If you’re unsure how to go about this, I suggest you work with an agency that can help you sort out the intricacies.

You should also note that there’s a possibility that your domestic staff who goes away for the holiday might not return as scheduled or might not even return at all. In my few years of running a staffing agency, I’ve realized that so many employers fail to consider this in their plans, so they get thrown off balance a few days to resumption in the New Year. It is not uncommon for domestic staff to promise to return, only to call you a day to resumption that something came up and they have to come much later or to say they wouldn’t be able to work with you in the New Year. Some of them would give you no notice and will not just show up. Don’t say you trust your staff to return as agreed, because sometimes, the decision not to return might be outside their control.

So, what’s your backup plan? Think about it and have it ready to go! The good news is some of the tips I shared above can also be a great way to stabilize your home until you are able to get a new staff!

Thank you for being part of my amazing readers this year. Have a fantastic December and a Happy New Year!

Mrs Elizabeth Ajetunmobi is Nigeria’s Foremost Household Staff Placement Consultant. She is a Professional teacher who has an impeccable track record of working successfully with children and adults. Her goal is to bridge the gap in the house hold industry and provide knowledge and empower domestic staff to deliver excellent services. Through Aymie, she trains prospective staff to be outstanding in their service delivery and helps families recruit domestic staff that have been adequately equipped for professional service.

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